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Trial begins for ex-deputy charged with assault in arrest

Tuesday, April 23, 2013 9:39 PM
Last updated Wednesday, April 24, 2013 1:02 AM
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The trial began Tuesday for a former Richmond County Sheriff deputy facing a charge of aggravated battery in connection with an arrest in 2009.

Johnson  FILE

Bryan P. Johnson, 33, has pleaded not guilty in Richmond County Superior Court. His trial continues this morning.

Johnson is accused of committing the felony when he and two other deputies arrested Christopher Kersey, 39, the night of July 24, 2009, at the Country Club nightclub on Washington Road.

That night, Kersey was doing what most people at the club were doing — drinking with friends and dancing, Assistant District Attorney Laura Stewart told the jury in her opening statement. On the dance floor, another person bumped into Kersey more than once and Kersey thought it was intentional, she continued. A scuffle began and two deputies in full uniform — Johnson and Deputy Joe Micheaux — moved between the two to break it up.

According to the prosecution’s case, Johnson used excessive force to get handcuffs on Kersey inside the club, rammed his head into the wood doors, and once outside repeatedly struck Kersey, Stewart said.

Defense attorney Jacque Hawk countered that defense witnesses portray Kersey as physically violent and verbally abusive as he fought the officers’ attempts just to get him to leave the club and when that failed, to cuff his hands. Because Kersey was fighting the officers, Johnson was justified in using force to gain control of him. Once outside, the other officers punched a handcuffed Kersey, Hawk told the jury.

Stewart said investigations found additional evidence in Johnson’s own words: Johnson later bragged in the sheriff’s department records division that be beat up Kersey, and he was recorded on a convenience store video camera bragging to store clerks about beating Kersey.

Johnson’s defense attorney told the jury that Kersey’s 2005 arrest in a similar incident involving a drunken rage was overlooked by investigators after Kersey told them in 2009 that he had never been involved in a violent incident. Hawk also told the jury that evidence will show Kersey greatly exaggerated the extent of his injuries and was more concerned about suing the city.

The city commission settled a federal lawsuit for $150,000 in 2012.

Kersey was initially charged with obstruction of a law enforcement officer but the charge was dropped. Johnson was fired after his arrest several days afterward.

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fishman960 04/23/13 - 11:34 pm

Is it just me or does he look like Leonard Lawrence from Full Metal Jacket?

nocnoc 04/24/13 - 05:48 am
Fishman - Nailed it

762 Full Metal Jacket

jkline 04/24/13 - 06:34 am
What is left out in this article?

Right. A fellow, who is in a fight with another fellow in a bar, is taken by the police. He puts up a fight, now against the police. The police have to handle him roughly (how can a violent man he otherwise handled?) and take him away in handcuffs.

The part not clear is what did the policeman do wrong to merit a trial? From what is written, if this is the whole story, the policeman was doing his job.

Either the article is woefully incomplete as to what actually occurred, and should not have been published in that state; or else this policeman should not be facing a trial in the first place.

jmo 04/25/13 - 04:47 am
jkline: How about the part.......

of "repeatedly striking" the handcuffed man outside the club? I believe that is the part of the incident that brought about the firing, lawsuit, and trial.

MarinerMan 04/24/13 - 08:22 am
Don't Understand a Couple of Things

Why did the city already "settle" the lawsuit? Why didn't the investigators share the 2005 arrest? If they did not know about it, then they are not very thorough investigators. If this had happened in North Augusta, his butt would've been tased, and this might not have happened @ all. And I am not so sure that one guy should've been singled out. Does former Deputy Johnson have any other issues in his personnel folder? Now it is more than a couple of things...

itsanotherday1 04/24/13 - 08:39 am
Ramming his head into the

Ramming his head into the door? Police are professionals who are trained to manage drunks and other unruly people using only necessary force to gain control. This jackleg apparently enjoyed using his "authority" to kick a little butt.

JENNPAT 04/24/13 - 11:00 am
if you don't go to clubs

and get drunk you don't have to worry about getting handcuffed and handled by a police officer You can go to clubs and have a good time without getting drunk,That is why they have officers there to keep everything under control.I know someone who works there to help keep the peace so other people can enjoy themselfs

JRC2024 04/24/13 - 10:42 pm
I went to many a club in my

I went to many a club in my younger days and never got out of control and was bumped into many times on the dance floor. We were having a good time and everyone knew it. But for the police to ram a head into a wall or door or beat him up outside is way way out of line and he should have been fired and the trial should go on. Most officers are good decent people with a hard job but you can look at this person and tell he is mean.

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